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Powder Hound Winter Ale - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

445 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 445
Reviews: 238
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 12.43%
Wants: 8
Gots: 16 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  7.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Two words describe winter in our neck of the woods... cold, dark, and snowy. Just the way we like it! At 7.2% ABV, Powder Hound Winter Ale gives just the right amount of warmth, balanced by its rich taste and generous dose of Hallertau, Palisade, and Amarillo hops. After a cold day of getting it done or just relaxing, the avalanche of flavor will have you saying these four words - "I'll have another Powder Hound"!

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-13-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 445 | Reviews: 238 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of OKCNittany
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: 1" off white head. Decent retention and lacing. Clear dark copper.

S: Light aroma of toasted malts. Had an initial fruityness that disappeared quickly.

T: Toasted malt flavor throughout. Finished with a nice hop bitterness and something slightly off.

M: Medium body with tingly carbonation. Dry citric hop finish.

D: Not a bad brew, but for Big Sky, it falls a bit short. I'm not entirely sure what's missing, but I'm sure a healthy dose of additional hops wouldn't hurt. (has it ever?)

OKCNittany, Mar 16, 2008
Photo of BeardedRiker
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The last Big Sky beer I had was a couple of years ago. I thought it was OK and never felt the need to go and try more. Since I've been asked and convinced to try another and review it. I like pretty much every winter ale I come across so I thought getting the Powder Hound would be a good choice, and it was. Let's see what the mountain folk of Montana came up with!

Like most beers that are good, I knew this one was just by pouring it out. Its aroma hit my nostrils pretty fast, but that'll be touched on later. The Powder Hound has a great head on it. It's thick, foamy, off-white in color, and leaves plenty of lacing as well as leaving a foamy film on the surface throughout drinking the beer that is a clear golden-orange. The smell is wonderful. To me it smells like a sugary cookie in some ways. Sweet malts and earthy hops are dominant with citrus present underneath. I don't get that floral aroma like most pale ales have from the hops but that's not a negative toward this beer. It smells like a winter ale should be: hoppy, plenty of malt, and earthy.

I think what I enjoy most about Powder Hound is the mouthfeel and balance of flavor. Hops are most prevalent but there isn't too much bitterness. It's very nice though. Instead it has a more earthy-spicy flavor that's not overwhelming. Mango citrus tang follows the hops with malty sweetness and a light roastiness. When drinking this I think of sitting by a fire after being outside in the cold and snow. In this case I guess the Powder Hound has done its job of being a winter ale since it makes me imagine drinking it in the winter. :P Hop bitterness and citrus do linger at the very end in the mouth. There's nothing like good flavors lingering to help you have a more lasting enjoyment of the beer. Although I don't think this beer is extraordinary, it is definitely very good. It's a great example of a quintessential winter ale. If you're snowed in then get this one!

BeardedRiker, Feb 24, 2011
Photo of imagese
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- hazy golden with a one finger head that faded quickly, hung around as a fine layer, and left light spotty lacing

S- grassy hops, apple, and a lot of yeasty spice. This smells like lager yeast was used

T- bitter apple and grassy hop combo along with a nice spiciness. There is a strong boozy yeast finish

M
- crisp and dry light body and nice carbonation

D- interesting beer. Very easy drinking. Not a typical winter ale at all

I could swear that this an attempt at an imperial pilsener.

imagese, Mar 02, 2011
Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a 1 finger off white head. Beer color is a dull copper brown with some carbonation.

Smells of sweet dried fruits, malts, caramels

Tastes of malts, nuts and dried fruits.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied. finishes clean.

Easy to drink. Could drink several in a session if the opportunity presented itself.

ThePeskyDingo, May 13, 2009
Photo of nukem5
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a great dark rich amber with solid foam cap which clings to walls of glass.

S: Aromas of light floral hops and sweet malty goodness.

T: Taste is a full throttle blast of sweet caramel malts with a light hop finish.

M: Medium body with smooth character all it's own.

O: Overall good beer with a bit of a boozey bite to help fight off winter cold blahs and bring in the holidays.

nukem5, Dec 08, 2011
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuzzy, dark orangish bronze; a relatively common winter beer color it seems. The compact, orange-tinted beige cap features a pebbled surface of gently popping bubbles. As it drops, sloppy rings of lace appear on the upper portion of the glass.

The nose is redolent of heavily toasted malt and puts me in mind of coarse, heavy, dark bread. I don't smell chocolate per se, so comparisons to pumpernickel don't really apply. It smells a bit earthy as well. The aroma needs something to give it some life. Hops would do the trick, but are virtually absent by my nose.

Powder Hound Winter Ale tastes better than it smells. While it's still malt-dominant, it's more multi-dimensional than the nose could ever hope to be. The malt backbone is firm and stops just short of roasted. Caramel and mild chocolate lead the way and a moderate sweetness helps rather than hinders.

Despite the early and mid sweetness, bitterness gathers itself at the midway point and increases modestly through the finish. The sweet-bitter interplay is wonderful, I just wish the underlying flavor was more to my liking. The body is a click or two above medium and the carbonation is on the shy end of things, resulting in a lovely mouthfeel.

I've been pleased by Big Sky in the past. Powder Hound isn't bad, but a few tweaks are needed to bring it up to the level of its stablemates. I feel like a broken record sometimes, but more hops would improve this beer immensely... more hops would improve this beer immensely... more hops would improve this beer immensely...

BuckeyeNation, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of CamuMahubah
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark amber into the mug.

Choice malt aroma.

Complex...this beer has a nice malty backbone with a particular bite. Delicate yet bold. More of a caramel malt than cacao. Hopped fairly well.

Medium with a nice lubricity. One smiles when the hop kick is realized.

This is a good beer and tonite the high is 25° and the low was around 4°, so the odds of this gal having a good show were pretty much spot on. Never once did she disappoint...

CamuMahubah, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of rebel1771
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown with a nice off white head.

Earthy smell with bready malts making up the body of the aroma. Just a touch of caramel finsihes off the aroma.

Roasted malt flavor jumps out of right up front with a touch of candied fruit in the end. The mouthfeel ends a little wattery but nice overall.

rebel1771, May 13, 2008
Photo of zacharius
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a reddish brown color with a nice head that lasts throughout the drink. Aroma is nice, sweet toffee and hops. The taste is sweet toffee balanced with hops, kind of an english hoppy flavor. This beer has a very thick mouthfeel. Drinkability is fine, I wouldn't have too many because they are a bit sweet. Seems like it is alot stronger of a beer than it actually is.

zacharius, Dec 28, 2004
Photo of Vashtar
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice head! It's fairly light and really clear.

The smell has some metallic and pine hints, with an overall caramel scent.

The taste is... metallic, HOPPY and nice. I'm not sure this is really a "winter ale."

The mouthfeel is fluff! Totally like that fake snow stuff that they use in diapers.

Vashtar, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of WastingFreetime
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from tasting notes.

Poured out a darker amber with decent clarity, two fingers of foamy head that stayed around for a minute and a half, with medium levels of lacing left behind. Smells like an even blend of citrus peel, chocolate malt, and a garnish of vanilla on top. Tastes has a gentle toasted nut and vanilla character combined with a citrus / earthy hopping garnish. Noticeably absent is any kind of 'holiday spicing', for better or for worse. Feels thicker in flavor than the body actually is, gently carbonated and creamy in texture.

WastingFreetime, Jun 16, 2012
Photo of cretemixer
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear light auburn in color with an off-white head that fades fast leaving a sporadic sheeting of lace.
Caramel malts with a hint of dark fruits. Raisins and a bit of over-ripe peach.
Fruity taste, but not overly so. Less spice than I was expecting from a "winter ale" though. There is a very mild hoppiness that comes into play by mid-glass as the beer finishes on a dry note.
Mediumish body with nice mellow carbonation. Slightly oily too.
Not a bad beer, by any means, but I had hopes that this dog had a little more bite. Thanks to Bighuge for the sample.

cretemixer, Mar 16, 2004
Photo of Spikester
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber with a modest white head, Not much on the lacings. Smell is malty and bready yeast.
Taste is earthy bitter hops fair amount of caramel malts. Hops are floral grapefruit and earthy,
Mouthfeel is medium with average carbonation. It has a medium dry bitter finish.
Overall an unusual amber. Almost an Impy Amber if such a style exists. Needs more spiice and malts for a winter warmer. Otherwise a tasty brew.

Spikester, Nov 28, 2013
Photo of MJSJr
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%

MJSJr, Monday at 01:33 AM
Photo of StoutHunter
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Big Sky's Powder Hound Winter Ale last week for $1.69 at The Lager Mill. I haven't seen this beer around before, so I decided to take a chance on it, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but I know it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice and I think it's pretty well done. It poured a light amber color that was slightly golden and it took on some amber hues when held to the light with a finger and a half worth of slightly off white head that that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left a nice ring of lacing. This was a nice looking beer but the color and head were just a little on the weak side.

S- The aroma starts off with some very sweet caramel malts that imparted a very sweet, grainy, caramel, and a slight brown sugar like aroma. After that comes the hops which seem to be floral and citrusy with the citrus fruit aspect seeming to stick out the most imparting a sweet mango, orange and grapefruit aroma. The aroma is nice, I like the caramel and citrus fruit aromas but it has a little to much sweetness to it.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with the malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness to it and imparts a grainy, bready, and caramel like flavor. After that comes a light amount of spices that aren't that noticeable and are followed by a good amount of citrus and floral hops with the citrus still seeming to stick out the most and they impart some nice light citrus hops flavors with no one fruit overpowering each other. On the finish there's a slightly lighter amount of medium bitterness with a pretty grainy and slightly sweet aftertaste. This was a nice tasting beer that seemed to be pretty balanced and very true to style.

M- Smooth, clean, crisp, on the lighter side of being medium bodied with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation that was just a little prickly. This beer had a nice mouthfeel that was very true to style.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and an above average example of the style, it had all the things that I look for in a good Amber Ale and the balance was pretty nice. This beer had very good drinkability, it was very smooth, crisp, a little refreshing, and it had a decent amount of flavor to hold my attention, I could drink a few of these without a problem, it's a pretty easy drinking Red Ale and I like that. What I liked the most about this beer was the drinkability, it was very good and better then most Amber Ales and it also hid it's alcohol very nicely. What I liked the least about this beer was how sweet it smelled, it had me preparing for the worse but luckily all that sweetness didn't make it to the taste. I would buy this beer again to keep around in the fridge since I think it's a good example of the style and it's always nice to have a quality easy drinking Amber Ale on hand, I recommend this beer to just about anyone, fans of the style should really appreciate it. All in all I was pretty happy with this beer and I thought it was very solid and a good example of the style. the last couple Big Sky beers I had weren't too impressive so it's nice to get one that I enjoy. My only problem with this beer is that I think it's miss marketed, I don't really think of this as Winter Ale, it has that nice Amber Ale flavor that is perfect for the summer and fall and I think this beer would do much better if marketed as a year round Amber Ale instead of a Winter Ale, but that's just my opinion. Either was this was pretty solid and I'm happy I tried it.

StoutHunter, Dec 05, 2012
Photo of hopdog
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a medium to deeper orangish color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of toffee, caramel, roast, and chocolate. Tastes of toffee, roasted and toasted malts, and I was getting a lighter fruitiness.

Notes from and tasted on 02/01/08.

hopdog, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of KajII
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Trappist glass]

The pour was a hazy medium orange with an average sized (1-2 finger) white creamy head that diminished into a puddle of residue which in turn created streaking sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a mild bread malt, pine hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, toffee, coriander, a bit of clove and just a touch of alcohol.

The taste was malty and mildly sweet with notes of caramel and toffee early on and then progressed into a nice bitter hoppy flavor that had notes of some dark fruit and spices with a hint of alcohol at the end. The flavor lingered for a nice long time and left a nice spicy malty flavor on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was medium in body and a tad watery in texture with a medium carbonation.

Overall a nice bold Winter Ale that had just the right amount of spices and a great hoppy finish.

KajII, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of Nerudamann
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look - clear, light amber in color. Half to one finger's worth of foam that dissipates quickly. Moderate carbonation.

Smell - Hoppy-smelling, there's also a pepperiness or spiciness to it that I can't quite pin down. Very intriguing smell. Hopefully the taste is just as captivating.

Taste - Fairly high level of bitterness from the hops. The spice smell lives on in the taste as well, but I still can't quite define it. I want to say maybe Agave, but I don't think that can be right. Bitterness lingers on in the aftertaste, but only as a guest for the night, as it doesn't linger too long. Texture is fairly well-balanced, but is more on the creamier side.

Drinkability - might be a little too bitter for me to enjoy on many occasions, but I'd keep coming back just for the complexity of it. Nice brew.

Nerudamann, Nov 12, 2010
Photo of aaronh
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep reddish amber body topped by a thin, ecru head. The head gradually fades to just a loose grouping of larger bubbles ringed in tight foam. The aroma is almost all caramel malt notes, but there's just a hint of woody herbalness. Light caramel flavors are supported by a slight alcohol note, then wrapped up with some bitterness. Slight, very slight medicinal/metallic note on the finish that's just a bit astringent. Mouthfeel is solid, but a bit over-carbonated. Drinakbilty is ok. A solid beer, but not exceptional.

aaronh, Feb 08, 2007
Photo of GRPunk
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- A moderate pour left a 2-finger, pillowy, khaki head with what looked like a spot of yeast left behind. The head sustains at about 1/2-finger and leaves fluffy rings on the glass. The body was a clean amber that was just slightly hazed and had loads of carbonation.

S- It was pretty sweetish at first. I got caramel malts, citrus and earthy hops. There was an orange zest quality that almost seemed juicy. Later on I picked up some husky grains, maybe brought on by some warmth.

T- Really well balanced. There was slightly burnt caramel, herbal and citrus hops. The hopping clean and dry the finish. There was some toasted and cereal-like grains in the middle-to-end.

M- Sips are through a fairly frothy head. It's fairly full-bodied. There was a pleasant grainy quality. It had a very dry finish.

D- It came across as an amber that's had everything ratcheted up a notch. Very flavorful. As a winter seasonal, it's a nice seitch from some of the overly-spiced, alcohol bombs out there. At first I thought this would be some kind of a "sessionable" seasonal. However, it ended up a little too bold for a bunch in any one sitting. Not really a sipper, but definitely not a chugger.

GRPunk, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of demcorhip
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance
Poured a clear, deep rusty amber. A one finger light tan head formed on the pour. This finely carbonated ale was able to produce a fine yet thick collar of lacings.

Aroma
Fruity and toasted bready malts. Red cherry skin, perhaps a touch of red grape also present. Some earthy and leafy (as in autumn) hops also there.

Taste
Dry malts, predominant flavours of toast and biscuit. A lesser, hazelnut flavour also present, along with intersting fruity notes, some maraschino cherry and red grape. The mild, earthy and leafy hops finished this one out.

Mouthfeel
A simple, refreshing, well made beer. Nicely balanced, refreshing, with a dry finish. Lacks real depth or complexity.

Drinkability
A very drinkable brew, definately sessionable. Would be a great brew to drink with friends or family that would normally stick to BMC or Molbatts, as long as they have to courage to try something new. May look for this one again if such a situation arises.

demcorhip, Dec 31, 2006
Photo of Durge
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A clear mahogany color with a big fluffy light tan head with good lace. The aroma is a light nutty sweetness with some malt, but very mild. It has a mellow woody-nut flavor, some vanilla with a full body feel but sort of flat at the same time. I detect a little smokiness and there is a slight hop bitterness at the back of this. Drinkable enough and definitely worth a try.

Durge, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of Darkmagus82
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep amber color with a one finger head of thick foam. The head fades very fast leaving only a trace of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma of the brew is heaviest of a caramel and slightly doughy smell. Along with these aromas are some light darker fruit aromas of raisin and plum. With a little bit of a spice and alcohol that are there as well create a very inviting aroma overall.

Taste – The taste starts with a sweeter caramel and fruit flavor with a slightly doughy and bready flavor. Some more darker fruit flavors of raisin and plum come to the tongue as the flavor advances. Some light alcohol, grassy, and light herbal flavors come to the tongue as well more toward the end of the taste and with the combination of sweeter and malty flavors, one is left with a nice and robust sweet but balanced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the rather thick and creamy side with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. For the sweeter and slightly boozy flavors of the brew the feel is very nice making for a nice robust brew.

Overall – A rather tasty and nice brew overall. Good flavor with a lighter alcohol hit and a good sweeter and maltier taste.

Darkmagus82, Nov 10, 2014
Photo of whynot44
3.64/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Almost clear gold/amber color with a modest white head that retreats to just a skin but does manage a bit of lacing.

The aroma is brazil nuts, toffee, caramel and cardboard with a grassy note,a bit odd but not terrible.

he taste is caramel malt, crackers, pine nuts, with a bit of citrus hops. The finish is fairly dry with a lingering grassy, somewhat spicy note.

Medium bodied, smooth and very drinkable.

Overall not a bad brew, especially for a cold fall or winter day.

whynot44, Feb 06, 2014
Photo of Scotchboy
3.64/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle to Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A: Chill-hazed gold with white head and lace.

S: Grapefruit and a robust malt backbone, caramel and nutty aromas, slightly toasted, orange and orange peel, hint of spice, bready, toffee.

T: Toasted grain and bread, with caramel and toffee as the Amber-side of this beer takes over. There is a slight hop bite with citrus and orange and grapefruit peel. Hint of something like allspice as well, but I could be wrong...

MF: Medium bodied, no real alcohol presence, there is a bit of spice/hop bite on the finish.

O: Decent overall, a pleasant amber ale with a nice underlying hop presence.

Scotchboy, Dec 09, 2013
Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 445 ratings.